Flavour of Goa in Karachi | Pakistan Today

Flavour of Goa in Karachi

Karachi in Pakistan may not be on a Goan’s list of foreign cities to migrate to. The city, however, has roughly between 12,000 and 15,000 Goans, a number that has remained fairly constant for the past 190 years, since the first wave of migrating Goans in dhows washed up on its shores in 1820 and made it their home.
“We are Pakistanis with a Goan ancestry. Being born into Goan families, the attachment to Goa is obvious; and connection with families in Goa makes it quite a strong affiliation,” says Karachi businessman Menin Rodrigues, who is currently researching achievements of the Goan community of Pakistan so as to highlight and preserve this. When the footprints of the first Goans were imprinted on the sands of Karachi, the city was yet to be conquered by the British. Over a century later, Karachi became part of Pakistan, when the British partitioned India at Independence in 1947.
“Karachi was an attractive economic destination before partition. Goans first came here as early as the 1820s for economic reasons,” adds Rodrigues. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Karachi Goan Association (formerly Goan Portuguese Association) celebrated its 125th anniversary this year. There are Goans in other Pakistani cities like Hyderabad, Quetta, Rawalpindi and Lahore, but they are just a sprinkling.
In almost two centuries, Goans have made a mark in the city and also the country. Some of the big names are those of Joseph Cordeiro, the first Pakistani cardinal, and Charles Lobo, judge of the Sindh high court and chairman of the public service commission in Pakistan, who was also appointed the country’s delegate to the United Nations. There have been others, but at present there are few who have risen high in the country.
“The cream of the Goan community – the intellectuals and professionals – has migrated to Canada, Australia, UK and US over the past 50 years, especially after Islamisation was ramped up in the late 1970s. The area where Goans in Pakistan are most active in, is probably the Church, where four of the seven bishops are Goans despite being about two percent of the over one million Catholics in the country,” says electrical engineer and civic and environmental activist Roland de Souza.
Interestingly, almost all of the Goans in Pakistan are Catholics, those of other faiths being rare to find. “I do know of a couple of Hindu jewellers who speak Konkani fluently with their Goan customers. I also have an Ismaili friend who speaks with me in Konkani,” says Rodrigues. He further laments that “Goans are not prominent in mainstream activity anymore”. What keeps Goans in Pakistan together is Konkani, the Goan mai bhas that remains alive in the country. Of late, this is thanks to the Goenkar’s Own Academy (GOA), an association that is working to boost Goan culture in Karachi.
“GOA was established in 2001 when Goans of Pakistan joined hands with organisations the world over to celebrate the World Goa Day. We not only promote Goan culture, but keep alive our mai bhas Konkani. The association also arranges recollection days, weekend trips, picnics, movie nights, family days, visits to homes, events that bring the community together socially and spiritually,” says GOA president Deborah Santamaria.
Spiritually, the Catholics of Pakistan have not broken ties with Goycho Saib. Every December, a group of about 100 devotees travel to Goa for the feast of St Francis Xavier, in a pilgrimage that also brings them to the home of their ancestors. As time flies and technology picks up, social contact is now via networking sites in cyberspace, and though contact is now more, there are those who feel the Goan community is not as vibrant as it once was.
“Our 125-year old club in Karachi is a mere shadow of the bustling social arena of the pre-1970s. Families now get together at private parties, weddings and limited social events on the basis of a shared heritage and culture. This culture (language, dress, music, values) is at considerable variance from the majority of Pakistanis. Many Goans still intend to migrate to greener pastures, but haven’t been able to do so yet,” says de Souza.
Yet, there remains a flavour of Goa in Karachi, and the KGA and GOA are the ones ensuring that it doesn’t get diluted by other spices. -The Times of India



One Comment;

  1. STEPHEN FERNANDES said:

    GOAN WHO R TODAY TO BE AT TOP POSITIONS IN MISSIONARY INSTUTIONS ARE SUPPOSED TO HELP THE POOR IN EDUCATION, INSTEAD THEY QUENCH THE THIRST OF THEIR FAMILY WHO WERE COOKS OR BUTLERS BY CAST.. FROM THE DONATION SENT BY VARIOUS GOD LOVING HUMAN CARING PEOPLE … GO TO THE PARISH OFFICE FOR A BAPTISM OF A CHILD OR IT BE INFORMING ABOUT A BURIAL THE 1ST QUESTION ARISES . '' HAVE YOU PAID YOUR CHURCH SUPPORT SHOW ME THE CARD ''' FLAVOUR OF GOA IS GONE ONLY THE ESSENCE IS LEFT FOR THE POOR …

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